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10 Common Dreams And Why We Have Them

The Huffington Post   Jordan K. Turgeon   First Posted: 07/13/2011 2:30 am EDT   Updated: 09/12/2011 6:12 am EDT

The average human experiences a handful of dreams while they sleep each night -- the exact number ranges depending on the source. All of these thoughts and dreams run through our heads while we snooze. But what exactly do they mean, if anything? Could they possibly shed some light on what we're experiencing during our waking lives, either consciously or subconsciously?

The following slideshow goes through 10 of the most commonly-reported dreams and some of the possible meanings behind them, according to experts. Please note that, while certainly interesting, dream analysis is a highly-subjective field of study.

Original reporting for this piece conducted by Holly Quinn, Wendy Gould and Tracie Handley.

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  • Dreams About Spiders

    <strong>What Do They Mean?</strong> Spiders are associated with manipulation because of the webs -- and the traps -- that they weave, according to "<a href="" target="_hplink">Dream Power</a>" author Cynthia Richmond. "Depending on the rest of the dream, the spider may indicate that the dreamer is being manipulated or that the dreamer is the manipulator," she said. Richmond suggests asking yourself if you're being manipulated. If so, determine what you can do to protect yourself. If you think you're the one being manipulative for your own good, ask yourself how you can withdraw from that type of behavior. <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Spiders?</strong> The key is to fix the problem occurring outside of your dreams. "The dreamer should ask themselves, 'Where in my life am I being manipulated or manipulating others?' and resolve that," Richmond said. <strong>Who Dreams About Spiders Most Frequently?</strong> Spider dreams are common in both males and females of all ages. <a href="" target="_hplink">To visit the original article on this topic, click here. </a> Original reporting by Wendy Gould. <em>Cynthia Richmond is a board certified behavioral therapist, educator, speaker and author of <a href="" target="_hplink">"Dream Power."</a> She writes a regular column titled, "In Your Dreams" for the Los Angeles Times and has appeared as a dream expert on "Oprah," "Entertainment Tonight," "The View," "Donny and Marie," and "Dr. Phil." In addition, Richmond provides live dream interpretations on <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>.</em>

  • Dreams About Being Chased

    <strong>What Do They Mean?</strong> Dreaming about being chased generally means you are "being told by your unconsciousness that you're avoiding an issue or a person," says Richard Nicoletti, J.D., a psychotherapist trained at the Jung Institute in Boston. He adds that, in these kinds of dreams, the context is important -- including the identity of the chaser. A common belief about being chased in dreams is that the dreamer is running from his or her emotions. According to Nicoletti, the dreamer may be "avoiding something painful, annoying or fearful." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Being Chased?</strong> If there are any tricks, Nicoletti is not a proponent of using them to avoid dreams about being chased. "It could be a wake-up call," he explains. "Trying to avoid the issue could lead to more recurring dreams." <strong>Who Dreams About Being Chased Most Frequently?</strong> A majority of people dream about being chased at one point or another. It's both "universal" and "natural," says Nicoletti. "Over a lifespan, if one didn't have a dream about being chased, it would be very unusual." <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic.</a> Original reporting by Holly Quinn. <em><a href="" target="_hplink">Richard Nicoletti</a>, J.D., was a lawyer (Cornell and Boston University law schools) for 37 years before retiring in 2000 and going on to study at the <a href="" target="_hplink">Jung Institute of Boston</a>. He currently lives in Keene, N.H., where he has a private practice in Jungian psychotherapy and works at a family services program.</em>

  • Dreams About Being Naked

    <strong>What Do They Mean?</strong> Dreams about being naked may indicate an inflated sense of self, says Nicoletti. "Like the fairy tale of the king with no clothes, the person is showing himself to be much more than he is, and the dream diminishes the person." He adds the meaning isn't likely to be sexual. And dreaming about wearing particular pieces of clothing can have meaning, too. "Sometimes people dream about wearing a decorative piece of clothing, which might mean that the person feels shy or rejected," Nicoletti says. <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Being Naked?</strong> Nicoletti said he believes this type of dream should actually be welcomed. "It's so informative. One might want to avoid nightmares, but a dream about being naked shouldn't cause shame or guilt." <strong>Who Dreams About Being Naked Most Frequently?</strong> These kinds of dreams affect no single demographic more than others. "It's something that is universal," Nicoletti says. <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic.</a> Original reporting by Holly Quinn.

  • Dreams About Teeth Falling Out

    <strong> What Do They Mean? </strong> The meaning of these dreams depends on several factors, including whether they're your teeth or someone else's. "It could mean that the dreamer's ability to assess emotional experiences was being interfered with," Nicoletti says. "When the teeth fall out, one's survival is challenged, one's ability to eat, so it could mean disease. If it's a person other than the dreamer whose teeth are falling out, the dreamer may have an issue with the person, who may be a superior at work, for example. The dream may indicate that the fear of the person in waking life is overstated." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Teeth Falling Out?</strong> "Live freely," Nicoletti says. "Psychoanalysis is the process of trying to understand one's life issues. If one has an attitude that one is looking to resolve, don't avoid the issue. Or, one may be overzealous about resolving issues in waking life, in which case the dream may be saying, 'Back off.'" <strong>Who Dreams About Teeth Falling Out Most Frequently?</strong> "It's just as likely for young people as old people to have dreams about teeth falling out," Nicoletti explains. "Such dreams run fully across the spectrum." <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic. </a> Original reporting by Holly Quinn.

  • Dreams About Falling

    <strong>What do dreams about falling mean?</strong> Dreaming about falling can have a physiological basis, according to Cathleen O'Connor, Ph.D., author of "The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary." As the body drifts deeper into sleep and the nervous system begins to quiet, blood pressure and heart rate drops and this physiological shift of "falling" asleep can trigger a falling dream, often one from which the dreamer suddenly "jerks" awake. O'Connor says that most often, however, dreaming about falling is the mind's symbolic way of alerting the dreamer to a situation in his or her waking life where they feel out of control. <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Falling?</strong> "If dreams of falling bring up feelings of vulnerability and fear, realize that the goal is not to avoid them but rather to work with those dreams in your waking state to deal with the fears around the situation so you can regain your balance," O'Connor says. <strong>Who Dreams About Falling Most Frequently?</strong> Dreaming about falling is a universal dream experience, according to O'Connor. "Virtually everyone has dreamt about and experienced the sensation of falling when asleep." She says this dream most often occurs shortly after you drift off, but it's possible to dream about falling anytime while asleep. <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic. </a> Original reporting by Wendy Gould. <em><a href="" target="_hplink">Cathleen O'Connor</a> holds a Ph.D. in metaphysics and is author of "The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary." In addition to her work as a dream analyst and author, O'Connor is a keynote speaker and entrepreneurial coach. </em>

  • Dreams About Being Pregnant

    <strong> What Do They Mean? </strong> "At its core, this dream is about creativity," says Ally Mead, who has studied dream analysis at the Jungian Institute of Los Angeles. "If you dream of being pregnant, you are likely craving time to be creative, or 'dreaming up' a new and exciting creative project that will come into existence down the line." Mead says pregnancy dreams often speak about something inside that has not yet been acknowledged, and this is represented by the fetus. "I find that people who have disowned goals and desires often dream of pregnancies." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Being Pregnant?</strong> To avoid these kinds of dreams, Mead suggests focusing on what you've "already brought into the world and need to nurture there." <strong>Who Dreams About Being Pregnant Most Frequently?</strong> "Dreaming about being pregnant is an extremely common dream, particularly for women," Mead says, adding she has seen male clients who also have pregnancy dreams. "Since becoming a mother is one of the more socially-accepted ways women get to experience and wield power, it can be a very rich and varied territory for dream analysis." <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic.</a> Original reporting by Wendy Gould. <em>Ally Mead offers a friendly, empowering approach in her work as the <a href="" target="_hplink">Sassy Psychic</a>. She offers astrology, tarot, channeled readings and dream interpretations and is also the author of "Searching for Sassy: A L.A. Phone Pyschic's Tale of Life, Lust & Love." Mead has studied dream analysis at the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles.</em>

  • Dreams About Death

    <strong> What Do They Mean? </strong> According to Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., M.T.S., L.C.P.C., a psychotherapist and author, dreams about death often indicate "the symbolic ending of something, whether that's a phase, a job or a relationship." He suggests a dream about death can also indicate attempts to resolve anxiety or anger directed toward the self. These dreams don't suggest a person will actually die, he explains. Sumber adds a person can ask himself if he is anxious about something, or angry at himself or someone else. "I can potentially learn that part of me is not at peace with the notion of my own death or the ending of something big in my life," Sumber says. "I have the opportunity to look within, take stock of myself and make adjustments as needed." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Death?</strong> There are no tricks when it comes to avoiding dreams about death or any other subject, Sumber says. "We dream in order to learn about ourselves and develop undeveloped elements of our personality. The only way to avoid anything from the unconscious is to do our inner work and make peace with it." <strong>Who Dreams About Death Most Frequently?</strong> People who have dreams about death tend to be those who are entering or exiting an uncertain phase or period in their life, Sumber explains. It could be a potentially life-changing event that creates anxiety and fear of the unknown. <a href=" " target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic.</a> Original reporting by Wendy Gould. <em>Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., M.T.S., L.C.P.C., is a psychotherapist and author living in Chicago. He holds masters degrees in theological studies from the Harvard Divinity School and in transpersonal psychology from Southwestern College. He has also taken specialized courses in dream interpretation at the <a href="" target="_hplink">Jung Institute</a> in Zurich, Switzerland. In addition to teaching psychology at <a href="" target="_hplink">National-Louis University</a> in Chicago, he has served as a licensed clinical counselor for more than 10 years.</em>

  • Dreams About Being Lost

    <strong> What Do They Mean? </strong> "Dreams about being lost or searching for something that is lost usually denote anxiety," O'Connor says. "They evoke feelings of confusion and frustration, or even a sense of feeling you don't fit in." Typically, O'Connor explains, "The meaning has to do with a current situation in your life where you are anxious that you will not find your way -- perhaps a new job, where you feel your skills are not optimal, a move to a new city where you are anxious about fitting in and making new friends, or perhaps an important task at work with a deadline looming." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Being Lost?</strong> As with most dreams, O'Connor said she doesn't recommend trying to avoid dreams about being lost, as she doesn't recommend avoiding your emotions in your waking life. <strong>Who Dreams About Being Lost Most Frequently?</strong> These types of dreams are common and can occur at any age, O'Connor says. "School-age children often dream of being lost in school, unable to find their classroom or locker. Adult versions of the same dream might find the dreamer searching for where he parked his car, or trying to navigate his way through an unfamiliar city or building complex, or endlessly searching for a report needed for an important work meeting." <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic.</a> Original reporting by Wendy Gould.

  • Dreaming About Water

    <strong> What Do They Mean? </strong> Dreams about water can shed some light into our feelings and emotional state of mind," Sumber explains. "Water tends to be about purification, change, renewal and new life when it is not otherwise significant to a person." Sumber says the lesson a person can learn from dreaming about water has much to do with the context of the dream and the person's role and relationship to the water. "If the person is pouring out water to others, it may represent offering new life, new changes or even purification. If the dreamer is being swallowed up by a typhoon, it could mean he is overwhelmed by change and transition to the point of great anxiety and dread." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Water?</strong> There isn't much a person can do to avoid dreaming about water or something else that is on a person's mind when he or she goes to bed, according to Sumber. "Obviously, if one spends the week at the shore, there is a greater likelihood that [the person] will experience water-related dreams," he says. <strong>Who Dreams About Water Most Frequently?</strong> "Dreaming about water tends to symbolize a change in consciousness and is common in those who are transitioning in their life some way or another," Sumber explains. "Some psychologists have suggested that plunging through water or being immersed in some way is actually the mind translating a specific change in the sleep cycle." <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic.</a> Original reporting by Wendy Gould.

  • Dreams About Celebrities

    <strong> What Do They Mean? </strong> "Celebrities typically, in our culture and worldwide, portray and carry some kind of message that's associated with personal accomplishment or lack thereof," says Shelley Smith, behavioral therapist and founding director of the Yoga Health & Therapy Center. "A person dreaming about [a celebrity] is seeking inspiration ... or some characteristic that is associated with that celebrity." <strong>How Can I Avoid Dreams About Celebrities?</strong> "That's one of the features of dream images, they are not under our control," Smith says. "Your experience while you're sleeping is coming from a place that's totally and utterly unconscious." <strong>Who Dreams About Celebrities Most Frequently?</strong> "There is no one group we can say has this particular dream more than another," she says. "The image is energetic and is specific to what the person's need is. For example, accomplishment, health, empowerment, rising to the top, whatever is associated with that celebrity." <a href="" target="_hplink">Click here to visit the original AOL Healthy Living article on this topic. </a> Original reporting by Tracie Handley. <em>Shelley Smith is a behavioral therapist with over 30 years of professional experience. She has a bachelor's from Indiana University and is a registered yoga therapist and a certified teacher trainer. She developed the <a href="" target="_hplink">Yoga Health & Therapy Center's Creative Dream Work Program</a>, which emphasizes the use of "Active Imagination" (a Jungian approach) to unlock memories, reactions and talents stored energetically in the body's tissues. </em>